612-644-9781 info@crossfitslipstream.com

Supercharge Your Sleep to Supercharge Your Results

Sleep is one of the most neglected aspects of our physical well being. When it comes to health & fitness, nutrition and exercise are almost always the first two topics to come up. Without a sufficient amount of quality sleep, the results you get from your hard work in the gym and the kitchen can be easily cut in half.

Most of the time when we think about sleep, we tend to focus on quantity. The question is usually, “Did I get enough sleep?” Yes, most people function best on 7 or more hours of sleep per night.  But laying in bed for 8 hours isn’t the same as getting 8 hours of quality sleep.

Related: Why Dieting Does Not Work

What does it actually mean to get good quality sleep? We need to fall asleep and stay asleep, so our body can recover and repair. If you’re waking up constantly, or taking hours to fall asleep, your sleep quality is suffering! We need to minimize the external stimulation in your sleeping environment, so your body can rest and recover instead of processing & reacting to stressors.

Our bodies have certain environmental conditions that will allow us to fall asleep quickly, and stay asleep through the night. Humans have been sleeping since there were humans. At no time in human history have there been more ways to mess up your sleep quality, than right now! Here are some practical ways to optimize your sleeping environment, to get the most out of your sleep and maximize the recovery you get overnight.

Tactic 1: Keep your room as dark as possible, & avoid screen time before bed.

Your body is very sensitive to light. Darkness is one of the strongest cues that your body uses to fall asleep and stay asleep. Electricity allows us to enjoy a brightly lit room 24/7, which certainly comes in handy at times. However, extraneous light in your sleep room can prevent you from staying in a deep, restful sleep. Your brain receives information from your body’s sensory organs while you’re asleep — which includes your skin. Your skin has photoreceptors that communicate with your brain just like any other sense. If you have lights on in your sleep room, your skin is telling your brain, “Hey it’s bright in here, that means it’s daytime, we should be awake!” and your sleep quality will suffer. Darken your sleep room as much as possible, and be especially wary of any bright LED lights on your electronics. Cover those suckers up!

The light from electronic screens also has the capacity to trick our brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and prevent restful sleep. Whenever possible, avoid screen time at least an hour before bed. Some newer devices have blue light filters that can also help block some of the sun-like light that cues our brain to stay awake. Apps like f.lux adjust the screen lighting based on the time of day, to spare your eyes from harsh blue light in the evenings.

Changing your sleep environment takes getting used to, even when the changes are for the better.

Tactic 2: Consistent noise volume

This one is pretty simple. Loud noises interrupt your sleep. If you live in a city with lots of traffic, or in an apartment with noisy neighbors, you should take some steps to help those noises blend in to your environment. A white noise machine or simple floor fan can be a lifesaver in these scenarios. You can download a free white noise app on your phone, which is especially handy if you’re travelling and don’t want to haul a fan with you. The idea is to keep the level of noise consistent, so the intermittent car horns, crying babies, and other jarring sounds aren’t as noticeable during the night. Fewer noticeable noises means more rest for your brain.

Tactic 3: Consistency & calming down

Your bedtime routine should facilitate quality sleep, by helping you calm down and let go of the stress of your day. Having a consistent routine helps with this — especially a consistent sleep schedule. One of the best ways to start increasing your sleep quantity and quality is to make sure you’re going to bed and waking up around the same time every day.

The hour leading up to bedtime is an important one. It may take some experimentation to find the activities and routine that work best for you. Find a way to calm down your mind. For some people, this is journaling about their day. For others, reading before bed is helpful. Reading a novel is a great way to escape the stress of your day, and let your mind sink into a more relaxed state.

Related: Breathing: So Simple Anyone Can Do It

Many people struggle with anxiety at bedtime. All the things you forgot to do today, or need to do tomorrow, start invading your thoughts and before you know it, you’re wide awake again! One method to deal with this is to keep a small notebook and pencil on your bedside table. Before you turn off the lights to go to sleep, take a moment to write down those things you forgot to do, or the things you’re concerned about for the next day. Now they’re on the paper, and you don’t have to hold those thoughts in your head. Ask yourself this thought — is there actually anything I can do about it right this second? 99% of the time, the answer is no. So let it go! There are also many free meditation apps available that can help you develop a mental routine for bedtime.

Putting it all together

To get started, just pick one of these three tactics and make it your priority this week. Changing your sleep environment takes getting used to, even if the changes are for the better. If you’re used to sleeping with the TV on, sleeping in a totally dark room will feel foreign at first — but it’s worth it in the long run. Commit to trying it for at least a week, and see how you feel. Your brain and body will thank you!

To learn more about how we can help you get more from your efforts, contact us at info@crossfitslipstream.com or 612-644-9781!

–Chris Lomen

CrossFit Coach

The Most Important Thing for Your Health and Fitness

In addition to Founder and Head Trainer at CrossFit Slipstream, I teach PE1014, Conditioning, at the University of Minnesota. Teaching is what I do in both positions, but the experience is quite different.  In the gym, I instruct, encourage, motivate, restore, and enhance. In my academic position, I do all of that, but I also give graded quizzes and assignments, which is a very interesting enterprise.  On a recent quiz, I asked the following multiple-choice question:

“When it comes to health and fitness, the most important thing is…

A)…to keep progressing to more difficult challenges.
B)…to improve your nutrition.
C)…to improve your fitness level.
D)…to stop acting like living a healthy life is a big deal.

The correct answer was (D).  This post is about why (D), including the attitude it contains, is correct.

Related: Why Dieting Does Not Work

Progressing to more difficult challenges can be a wonderful part of your fitness journey, but it does not relate to health – you can only be so healthy.  New challenges can help motivate, maintain interest, and expand your horizons, but if you are happy with what you are doing and the results you’re getting, it is not necessary.

Nutrition is the single most important factor for your health.  Period.  But if your nutrition is already good, improving it may no longer be the most important thing for your health and/or fitness.  Excellent nutrition will improve your recovery from training, which increases the rate at which your fitness improves.  However, there is something more important.

“Lifestyle” is just a summary of your habits.  It’s what you do. And who you are. 

Improving your fitness level combines the issues of new challenges and nutrition – after a certain point, you probably don’t need additional fitness.  Are you able to accomplish daily tasks?  Are you able to keep yourself upright when the sidewalks are icy?  Are you able to help others in need?  Then you probably have the fitness necessary for your life.   The rest is really bonus or to serve your desire to perform in competition.  In fact, the real test of your fitness is whether you are unfazed by the prospect of doing something that might reasonably happen to you, such as getting out of a burning building, or helping someone with a sprained ankle get to a hospital.

Those are the shortcomings of the other answers, though “nutrition” looks like a really good answer.  So why is “…to stop acting like living a healthy life is a big deal” the better answer?  Because when you act like living a healthy life is a big deal, that means it is an effort.  Habits are what we do automatically, without effort.  If living a healthy life is an effort, it is not habit.  This means that any disruption to your normal routine can knock you off your health and fitness efforts, causing you to slide back into your old unhealthy routines.

Related: What Does It Mean To Be an Athlete?

Another word may help us understand this better – lifestyle.  “Lifestyle” is just a summary of your habits.  It’s what you do.  And who you are.  To actually get your lifestyle to be healthy – eating well, sleeping well, moving well, moving often, and moving fast and hard from time to time – means your habits will help you return to these activities when you face life’s inevitable challenges.

We are surrounded by a society that makes its living providing us with the means to be mindlessly unhealthy – convenience foods, daily life that requires virtually no physical effort, passive entertainment, the cult of the workaholic.  Sit back, relax, let us feed you, entertain you.  No need to get up – we’ll take care of it with this machine, robot, or electromagnetic spectrum segment.  You just keep working (or watching).

Living a healthy lifestyle is a rebellion against the status quo, so acting like it is a big deal may be necessary — at first — as you steel yourself against the forces in your life pushing you to be like everyone else.  When you no longer need the effort, the ego attachment, when it is just who you are and what you do, you are free from the shackles of an unhealthy culture.  And life begins in freedom.

Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com or 612-644-9781 to discuss how we can help you create a healthy lifestyle.

— John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight – Meet Tom

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
After 17 years of working
 construction, I moved to a desk job. The lack of movement and donuts became unhealthy. I started running again. Running outside and the Minnesota winters do not always go hand in hand. I researched CrossFit. CrossFit Slipstream was opening. I stopped by dropped off a check and 5 years later I am still here.

2. How is having a CrossFit Coach changed your workout or fitness results? 
Having a coach and a regimented time helps keep me on track. CrossFit allows you to get an intense workout in a short period of time. Having a coaching watch your movements promotes safety and motivation.

3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
The work, mobility, and strength you gain through CrossFit transfer to other aspects of your life. Renee and I went skiing in the mountains in December, something we have not done in 30 years. Both of us were able to strap on some skis and be proficient enough to not break our bones. This is a direct result of attending CrossFit Slipstream.

4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
The next movement I learn. Many of the movements were out of my reach when I started. Over the past years, I was able to learn many of these movements; double
unders, rope climb, TTB, pull-ups, ring dips, Olympic lifts, to name a few. It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I am able to learn another movement. There is always a new one to learn.

5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
I encourage people to join CrossFit. This is 5 years of CrossFit for me. I have seen people come and go. Members that attend CrossFit Slipstream regularly will make improvements to their fitness and well being. 

Why Dieting Does Not Work

Scientific research is clearly proving what most of us already knew but hoped was not true: following short-term restrictive eating plans (diets) does not result in long-term weight loss or health benefits.  Two recent books review the scientific literature for the general public, and make clear what happens and why.

The books, Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again, by Traci Mann, PhD, of the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Laboratory (2017) and the more pithily named Why Diets Make Us Fat, by Dr. Sandra Aamodt (2016) both conclude that:

  • The subconscious has a weight range it will defend, which is usually near your current weight.  If you are hungry or cold often, you’re below.  Binge eating, probably above.  The subconscious easily moves within this range, and resets the defended range higher much more easily than lower.

  • Calorie restriction to lose weight causes the subconscious to react as if it is starving.

  • The subconscious does a vastly better job of balancing energy inputs and outputs than you can ever hope to accomplish by counting calories and tracking physical activity.

  • Prejudice against overweight people results from the erroneous belief that self-control is a significant factor in weight loss.

  • Some things are more susceptible to self-control than others.  Because taking in food is essential for survival, eating is not amenable to self-control.

But if diets don’t work, what should we do?  Both authors are at pains to give advice that sounds an awful lot like diet advice, while not calling it diet advice.  These are “strategies” or “healthy habits” that have the result of a diet, without the dieting.  The real problem here is that the word “diet” has two different definitions: (1) a programmed plan of eating to achieve a specified goal, typically weight loss; (2) a description of eating habits – for example, “the panda lives on a diet consisting entirely of bamboo.”  One is time limited with a specific purpose, the other is just what you (or pandas) do.  Both authors agree that definition (1) is the problem, and the trick is to make definition (2) apply to you in ways that support health, rather than undermine it.

Related: 3 Steps to Improve Your Nutrition

In other words, make your habitual eating patterns healthy, and then you won’t need to worry about it – the subconscious will set a new defended range, and minor “cheats” or the like will not knock it out of range.

Related: 3 Key Elements of a Successful Nutrition Plan

So what’s healthy?  I’ll call upon a third author here to help us: Michael Pollan and his book, In Defense of Food.  Pollan summarizes his own book in seven words: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  The catch is the definition he uses of “food.”  He has a long list of rules that help you identify food, though most are neatly summarized this way: food does not have ingredients.  Rather, food is edible by itself or as an ingredient.  Helpful tips include shopping the perimeter of the supermarket and staying out of the middle.  This is because real food is capable of rotting, and the refrigerators are on the outside of the supermarket, while packaged food-like products occupy the middle.

So how to make the change?  Aamodt arguably as the best approach, which is simply paying attention to what you’re eating, when, and why.  This “mindful” approach is everywhere these days, but it works, and is a necessary antidote to the constant distractions of our lives these days.  Paying attention, noticing how you feel during and after a meal and eating slowly enough to notice if you are feeling full are great ways to start.  Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com if you have questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you!

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight – Meet Steve!

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
I was looking for something that was going to keep me accountable. I was completely unable to work out hard on my own. But, if it’s written on the whiteboard,  it has to get done.

2. How has having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
The coaches present a perfect blend of encouragement, support, technical skills, and safety. Big thanks to Paul, Chris, John, and Jake for seeing what I need and helping in the right way.

3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
Doing CrossFit has made me look and feel 100x times better about myself. When I joined, I was as out of shape as I have ever been in my life. Now, I feel like I’m back to my normal self.

4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
HANG squat clean. I love cleans and front squats but hate going from the floor.

5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
The slipstream community is supportive of whatever approach you want. If you want to give 100%, they’ll push you to do your best. If you want to show up and get a little sweat in, that’s fine too. It’s definitely worth a try to see if it’s a good fit.

New Year’s Resolution, or Back to Normal?

Ah, January in the fitness business!  The gyms are full, go to any store (online or in person) and the first thing you see is workout gear.  And of course, there are the blog posts and other musings from us in the industry – make THIS the year you stick to it, blah, blah, blah.  The industry doesn’t talk so much about December.  Thinking about that fact helped me finally realize something very important: New Year’s Resolutions come right after the insanity that we have made out of the Thanksgiving – to – New Year’s “Holiday Season”.  

Related: Why Technique is the Foundation of Training Philosophy

Maybe fitness – related New Year’s Resolutions are less an attempt to start something new than to return to something more like normality?  After seven weeks or so of running around with our hair on fire, responding to this familial obligation and that work event, church now and synagogue later, perhaps we just want to get back to (1) normal, and (2) being able to take care of ourselves?  

Thanks largely to yoga’s popularity,  our culture is finally beginning to admit that you need to – take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.  The Marine Corps also teaches this, but they aren’t as conveniently located as your friendly neighborhood yoga studio.  After an extended season focused outwardly, taking care of obligations to others, it’s only right to come back to yourself, to refresh and renew your health and regain the fitness lost to the general busyness of the season.

Related: Why Personal Training?

So to all you New Year’s Resolutioners: welcome back to normal.  We are here for you.  Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com for a free, no-sweat introduction to discuss your goals, and how we can help.

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight – Meet Crystal!

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
At the beginning of 2018, I was looking for a new fitness option.  I researched gyms near my home and Slipstream’s New You Challenge stood out as the best fit for me. I was able to ease into CrossFit with five other individuals who were also just starting out, so there was no intimidation factor. The nutrition component and the individualized attention also were very important for me.

2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
The coaches help me stay focused and accountable. I have some limitations due to previous ankle and leg injuries, and the coaches are spectacular at customizing the workouts so that I get the maximum results without getting frustrated by the things I can’t do.

3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
I joined the gym as a regular member after the Challenge ended, and I have been able to stay focused on my fitness goals by consistently doing the CrossFit workouts. This is a big win for me, and something I haven’t done consistently in many years. This is due to the fact that I enjoy the physical challenge of the workouts and the camaraderie of being a part of the Slipstream family. Also, I still utilize the nutrition tips and guidance from the New You Challenge—in fact, the food guide is still posted in my kitchen.

4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
For now, probably the front squat. It’s the movement where I have seen the most progress with both my form and the amount of weight I can lift.

5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
Just try it! The New You Challenge is a great introduction to CrossFit and Slipstream. After the six weeks of the challenge, you will be hooked.


Introducing the Slipstream Consistency Club

We are excited to announce for 2019 our all new “Consistency Club!”

Earning  Consistency Club honors is a testament to your dedication to your goals. The more you’re at Slipstream giving it your all, the closer you get to your goals! The “Consistency Club” is a public recognition of your commitment to fitness and health.

Earning Consistency Club honors depends on your membership.  Think of it like goal setting – your membership type sets the goal.  Based on your membership, you must attend:

  • 8x: at least 8 times during the month
  • 12x: at least 12 times during the month 
  • Unlimited:  at least 13 times in one month
  • Lite punchcard: at least 8 times in one month

At the end of each month, we will announce who made the Consistency Club with the number of times attended next to their name!

Each month’s Consistency Club members are entered into a raffle to win some sweet prizes.  It begins January 1st, 2019!!!  Let’s go! 

Raffle Prize (examples)

  • Free mobility pack
  • One month membership upgrade
  • Free 1 hr personal training session
  • Free Functional Movement Screen
  • Free Body Fat Test
  • Free tee shirt
  • Etc…

Member Highlight- Meet Marcy!

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
I wanted to try something new. I was getting bored with going to a gym or fitness center, and was finding it hard to self motivate at the gym.
2. How has having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
Being new to CrossFit, I had a lot of hesitations about it.  I was afraid of getting hurt, or falling behind in a class because I didn’t know the proper technique.  The coaches are wonderful in answering my questions or showing the proper technique of a movement.  They also are great at encouraging and pushing me, so I can get the best workout.
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
CrossFit has been such a positive part of my life.  I look forward to coming to the classes, and pushing myself beyond my comfort level.  It is nice to work out with people of all different ages, backgrounds and fitness levels. 
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
I can’t narrow it down to just one movement.  I will just at that I love Sunday workouts.  They tend to be a little bit longer than most, but I always enjoy starting off my day and week that way.
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
Don’t let the unknown, deter you from trying something new.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification.  Try it.. you won’t be disappointed.
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